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Canadiens and Blue Jackets try to shake slumps

by Mike Battaglino

CANADIENS (9-8-2) at BLUE JACKETS (6-10-2)


Last 10: Montreal 4-4-2; Columbus 3-5-2

Season series: The Montreal Canadiens won the first of three games, 5-3 on Oct. 17. The Columbus Blue Jackets trailed 3-0 before tying it in the third period, but Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec scored with 1:07 remaining and added an empty-net goal 51 seconds later.

Big story: Since that game against the Blue Jackets, the Canadiens are 4-6-2 with a recent stretch of five losses in six games, including a 2-1 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday when Montreal allowed a season-high 45 shots on goal.

"There were many things that happened last game that I didn't like, but in the games before that there were a lot of positives, even though we might have lost," coach Michel Therrien said Thursday.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal took advantage of two days between games to try to get back on track.

"Today, we held a high-intensity practice, and that's what we wanted to do," Therrien said. "Our level of execution was higher than it usually is. We paid particular attention to details. It's looking good for the weekend."

Peter Budaj will start in goal Friday before Carey Price faces the New York Rangers at Bell Centre on Saturday.

"Our last six games, we don't have a good record," Budaj told the team website. "We need to improve. We know we have to win. We know that we have to get the points. Every point is huge. ... We are going to Columbus, it's a tough team to play against. They have a Vezina Trophy goalie (Sergei Bobrovsky), so we have to be ready."

Budaj is 2-1-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average this season. He is 7-5-0 with a 2.20 GAA in 13 games against Columbus.

Blue Jackets: Columbus will look to build on its play in a scoreless third period against the Boston Bruins on Friday in what ended as a 3-2 overtime loss. After this home game, the Blue Jackets, 2-4-2 on the road, travel for five straight in Canada.

"I think it's a big game tomorrow; we have to go back home and win the game and get the two points before going on a big trip," defenseman David Savard told Fox Sports Ohio. "I think in the third we battled hard and just have to bring [that] tomorrow the whole 60 minutes, maybe more."

Columbus outshot Boston 14-8 in the third period and overtime.

"We'll look at some video in the morning, of things we can do better at and fix, and we have to be ready for a big start against Montreal," forward Ryan Johansen said.

Who's hot: Canadiens forward Daniel Briere scored in his first game back from a head injury Tuesday, his second goal in nine games this season. Forward Max Pacioretty had an assist, his first point since returning from a hamstring injury Nov. 2. … Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno, who's been in and out of the lineup due to a family matter, has five points in his past six games played. Forward Mark Letestu has a three-game assist streak.

Injury report: Canadiens forward Brandon Prust (shoulder) will play Friday for the first time since Oct. 19. Defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee) will not play Friday but expects to be in the lineup Saturday in what would be his first game since offseason surgery. Forward Brendan Gallagher (flu) is out. Forward George Parros (therapy day) did not practice Thursday. … Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik (knee) will be out 4-6 weeks. Forwards Matt Calvert (abdominal surgery), Nathan Horton (shoulder surgery) and Boone Jenner (leg) are out.

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